Speakers Directory

Marilyn H. Fedewa

3129 North Cambridge Road
Lansing, Michigan 48911
Phone: 517.484.0434
Fax: 517.484.0434

Marilyn Fedewa authored María de Ágreda: Mystical Lady in Blue (2010). It was awarded the 2010 Folk Award from the Texas Catholic Historical Society for its outstanding contribution to Texas Catholic history. She is a former college vice president (Olivet College) and university administrator (Michigan State University).


A History of the Lady in Blue of the American Southwest

She never left her convent in northeastern Spain. Yet this seventeenth-century cloistered abbess impacted the kingdom, her church, and the New World. The king of Spain sought María de Ágreda's advice and colonial missionaries read her inspirational writings as they founded missions from Texas to California. Native Americans claimed the cloaked "Lady in Blue" preached Christianity to them—mystically, from afar—spurring the founding of Texas's first mission in 1632 in San Angelo. She is lauded among American pioneers in the Library of Congress's guide on women's history in the U.S. This presentation will interest popular and educational audiences and includes a compelling array of historical imagery.

Jumano Native Americans: Extinct or Emerging in West Texas?

Skilled hunters and traders, the Jumanos trekked annually throughout the canyons of northern Texas, the plains, and New Mexico's pueblos. Despite their prolific numbers in prehistoric and colonial times, by the 1800s they were considered extinct. Instead, they had intermarried within other tribes or strategically called themselves Mexican in order to survive. In 1996, a West Texas borderland band in the Big Bend region applied for recognition as Jumano-Apaches. Their emergence ties in now, as it did in the seventeenth century, with the legacy of María de Ágreda, the "Lady in Blue." Images during the presentation feature the sweeping vistas of their countryside, pictographs, and current events.

Sung and Unsung Tales of Colonial Mission History in Texas and the Southwest

Early colonial explorers and missionaries had no road maps or GPS to guide them through the uncharted New World. Nor did they have laptops, paperbacks, or e-readers to while away the nights. They did carry with them, however, ornately inlaid and painted cases with cherished books such as the Bible and Mystical City of God, a devotional biography of Mary of Nazareth written by the Spanish abbess María de Ágreda. These, as well as the account of the "Miraculous Conversion of the Jumanos" in Alonso Benavides's Memorial of 1630, profoundly affected the work of missionaries, most notably the founding fathers of Texas and California Missions, padres Antonio Margil and Junipero Serra.